“This is what the beginning of the humanitarian crisis looks like,” the International Organization for Migrations representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina warned today, as hundreds of migrants were forcibly removed from accommodation managed by the organization, which has provided shelter for migrants and refugees for almost two years, Klix.ba news portal reports.
Peter van der Auweraert, IOM’s sub-regional coordinator for the Western Balkans, warned of the inhumanity of these activities and the concerns of the local population.
“It will only increase the number of people already sleeping on and around the streets of Bihac,” he added.
Ahead of the local elections in November, local authorities in Una-Sana Canton took drastic action on Wednesday night.
The move, according to the IOM, will add 350 people to the already 2,500 those estimated to be sleeping in the open air.
The total number of migrants and refugees currently in the country is about 8,500. Most migrants see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a transit country on the way to the European Union, and in the past two and a half years, more than 55,000 migrants have used this route.
“IOM BiH made sure that the most endangered cases were placed in medical institutions, but hundreds of others just had to manage,” they say.
“We call on the authorities to provide access to the shelter for these 350 migrants and refugees, as well as the other 2,500 people sleeping outside in forests, abandoned buildings and public spaces,” Van der Auweraert added.
Early snows hit much of Europe, reminding us that a severe Balkan winter is just around the corner.
“Every year we look for solutions and every year we manage to find accommodation for those who need it. Local elections are in November, and a large number of migrants and refugees sleeping outside reduces our self-confidence,” Van der Auweraert added.
“The situation is very, very dark,” he warned.